It this collection, Mary celebrates many of the dogs with whom she's shared her life and offers such wisdom as:
"Be prepared. A dog is adorable and noble.
A dog is a true and loving friend. A dog
is also a hedonist."
"Dog is one of the messengers of that rich and still magical first world. The dog would remind us of the pleasures of the body with its graceful physicality, and the acuity and rapture of the senses, and the beauty of forest and ocean and rain and our own breath. There is not a dog that romps and runs but we learn from him."
"And it is exceedingly short, his galloping life. Dogs die so soon. I have my stories of that grief, no doubt many of you do also. It is almost a failure of will, a failure of love, to let them grow old--or so it feels. We would do anything to keep them with us, and to keep them young. The one gift we cannot give."
This last passage reminds me that I'm to send a copy of Dog Songs to my mom, because her yellow Lab, Phoenix, of 14 years, died this week. I think the words above speak to our gut-wrenching loss of those pups we couldn't save (in the end, isn't it all of them?) no matter what. My own black Lab, Shadow, died of heart failure two years ago and I've said if not for species differences, I would have donated my own heart.
And oh, how easy it is to slip into sentimentality when we talk about lost pets. I'm teetering on that edge right now. The Rainbow Bridge and all that. One can jump overboard. Of course, that's not the intent of this entry. Instead, this is meant as an illustration of how poetry helps and heals (and poetry about animals, especially!).
But, if your heart is heavy because you've lost a pet, here are some comforts:
- Brain Picking's example of how a Zen master explains death
- Neil Gaiman's moving tribute to his beloved dog Cabal
- Dr. Sarah Boston's more medically-aligned yet heartfelt analysis of euthanasia
- And the bittersweet Kipling poem, The Power of the Dog
As of yet, Mary doesn't have a collection about cats. I'd like to ask her about that.
Until next time.